It has been a pleasure to observe a truly significant change in the thinking at Microsoft. Slowly, Microsoft is realizing that not everything is about Windows anymore. I say this as someone who is a former employee of Microsoft. I am a regular user of Windows. I personally think that Windows is a terrific product and brand. I run Windows 8.1 Update 1 on my notebook. I also run Windows VMs.
But we live in a world of BYOD now. For many users, IT no longer chooses the device that you use at work. Moreover, even users who have a device dictated by IT will often use a secondary device that is a personal asset. Some companies have sanctioned BYOD programs. Other companies forbid BYOD, but users find ways around policies which are not well enforced. To Microsoft’s credit, they have realized that BYOD is an inevitable trend. Rather than fight it, they have chosen to embrace it. This is very sensible because users are unwilling to be told what device they have to use.
Microsoft’s move to embrace management of other platforms goes back to 2008. Microsoft announced at the Microsoft Management Summit that System Center would support cross platform management of Unix and Linux servers with System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. This was a big shift for Microsoft which previously only supported management of Windows Server. Why did Microsoft make this change? Because they realized that all enterprises run a heterogeneous mix of servers. While Windows Server may be the dominant server platform in most organizations, there is generally a small quantity of non-Microsoft servers which need to be managed. For System Center to be a true enterprise class management tool, it needed to manage every server in the enterprise.
In 2012, Microsoft released System Center Configuration Manager 2012 SP1. This was the first release of Config Manager which provided native management of Linux, Unix, and Mac OS X. Microsoft also released a version of System Center Endpoint Protection that was compatible with Mac OS X and Linux. Previous versions of Config Manager required 3rd party management extensions to manage these platforms.
In April 2014, Microsoft announced that they would be changing the name of Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure. Microsoft dropped “Windows” from the Azure product name to emphasize that Azure is not just a platform for running Windows VMs and .NET applications. Microsoft Azure supports Linux, Java, PHP, Oracle, and other non-Microsoft technologies. Microsoft’s goal is to rebrand itself as a company focused on public and hybrid clouds, not just clouds that run Windows Server.
Reviewing Microsoft’s recent history around cross platform management leads to the inevitable question:
When will Microsoft wake up and drop the name “Windows” from Windows Intune?
When Windows Intune began as a product back in 2010, it was developed out of the Windows Product Group. Windows Intune could only manage Windows PC and Windows Client VMs. Every customer that purchased Windows Intune was also purchasing a Windows Client SA Upgrade subscription. Windows Intune and the Windows Client OS were deeply tied together.
All of that changed in 2012 with Windows Intune Wave C. Microsoft introduced new MDM features into the product. This provide a way for Windows Intune to manage iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices. They changed the licensing from a per device subscription which included a Windows Client SA Upgrade to a per user subscription which could be purchased without the upgrade. Microsoft also moved the Windows Intune Product Group into the System Center Product Group. This made sense now that Windows Intune was evolving into a management product for multiple platforms. But the name has remained the same for multiple releases since 2012. The next release of Windows Intune is due to release in Q2/Q3. For more information on this release, please see my previous blog post:
There have been some great features announced for the next version of Windows Intune. One notable oversight is the lack of any announcements regarding the name of the product. Windows Intune is a cloud-based management solution for the BYOD era. It is no longer about managing Windows PCs. When will Microsoft wake up and change the name of the product to reflect its current usage in the market? A great cloud service deserves a great name. Hopefully Microsoft will give Windows Intune a name that reflects its true greatness as a solution for BYOD. How about System Center Device Manager Online?